Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, a 5-day, 54-mile protest in Alabama over Black voting rights.

Good morning from Atlanta
 
The birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. whom we honor on this federal holiday created in 1986 to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King. In 1994, Congress designated the holiday as the National Day of Service- a “Day On, Not a Day Off” to encourage Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
 
In Washington, it was another week of failure for Democrats.  Biden gave a speech on voting rights that was boycotted by… voting rights advocates while his visit to the Senate Democratic Caucus, billed as a final sale on eliminating/modifying the filibuster in order to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, was made moot by Sen. Sinema’s prebuttal, a declaration of support for the filibuster… something that, frankly, she had been clear about for months and months. And as you recall last week, Sen. Manchin reiterated that his last proposal on the Build Back Better legislation was “off the table” and that he was done negotiating. And most damning of all, economists confirmed what most Americans already knew: inflation in 2021 was the worst since 1982. Nonetheless, the Senate cancelled their recess and will be back in Washington to vote on both Senate rules and the Lewis Voting Rights Act. Both will fail but it will demonstrate that Democrats really, really care about voting rights.
 

On the plus side, President Biden promised Americans that their health insurers would pay for home coronavirus tests, per a new directive from the Department of Health & Human Services. Of course, as most Americans also know, it is impossible to find these tests anywhere, in fact, harder to find home tests than it was to find a cabbage patch kid in 1982 (yes, cabbage patch kids were 1983 but you see the point). It is probably something the Biden Administration should have been focused on months ago.

 

Back in New York State… 

 The Legislature voted down both sets of maps from the Independent Redistricting Commission. The Commission will have another opportunity to present maps, which they have promised to provide the Legislature within fifteen days (but technically they have until the 28th of February per the State Constitution). These, too, will be voted down and then the Legislature will draw their own maps (see the analysis on what this means for primaries and legislative session in our 2022 Preview here).

Even before these maps, John Katko, a Member of Congress for four terms from Central New York announced his retirement last week. A moderate Republican, Katko had broad bi-partisan support and a couple of impressive wins behind him.  That said, his support for an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and his vote to impeach President Donald Trump had earned him the disfavor of local Conservatives as well as a potential Republican primary. His retirement could impact what New York’s Congressional map looks like, one expert queried: “Dems now face a big choice in the wake of Rep. John Katko (R) retirement: split the Syracuse region into two Biden +10 districts (23D-3R overall), draw one Biden +20 Syracuse/Utica/Ithaca ultra-safe seat (22D-4R overall) or something in between.”

Last Friday was the final day of the fundraising cycle in New York and the deadline for filing reports is tomorrow. As those reports become public, we expect they will show record numbers, namely for Governor Kathy Hochul. One of the early anecdotes turning heads was Hudson Valley State Senator James Skoufis, who has raised more than $300,000 since July, giving him more than $1,000,000 for his reelection campaign. Skoufis flipped his Hudson Valley seat after longtime Republican Senator Bill Larkin’s retirement in 2018. 
 
Governor Kathy Hochul will present her Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget tomorrow at 11 a.m. virtually. For a quick recap of what to expect and what was in her State of the State, check out our 2022 Session Preview hereour summary of the State of the State here and her State of the State Briefing Book here
 
And finally, farewell to Ronnie Spector

 -Jack O’Donnell  

 

For more on what to expect from the
2022 New York State Budget Process & Legislative Session, check out the 

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Greenlight Networks Bringing New High-Speed Fiber Broadband Network to Cheektowaga

Greenlight Networks, New York State’s fastest Internet provider, announced that it is bringing its 100% fiber-to-the-home network to Cheektowaga with service available starting this Spring. By year-end 2022, Greenlight’s high-speed Internet service is expected to be available to nearly 10,000 homes in Cheektowaga. Greenlight is partnering with South Line Fire District No.10 in Cheektowaga to host its network equipment in exchange for complimentary high-speed fiber broadband service at Station #1 on French Rd and its training facility on Boxwood. Read more here. Watch coverage of the announcement on WGRZWIVB, and WKBW.

Churchill: Hochul Knows Something About Population Decline

It would be impossible to be from Buffalo and not understand something about the consequences of population loss — the eerie quiet of decaying neighborhoods, the pain of grandparents divided from grandchildren by distance, the sadness of seeing friends and neighbors move away. Any politician from the city would know that population drops are a sign something is wrong. [Read more.]